Debate team goes national


Eiset Mehbratu (far left) and Ben Phi (fifth person in from the right) shown standing with the rest of the debate team. These two along with Townesend Nelson and Josiah Ferguson will be going to nationals. Photo courtesy of Erick Taggart.

Lil Crawford, Staff Writer


Have you ever gotten into an intense argument with your friend? Well, the South High debate team does that weekly! This team is making news recently by having four people, sophomores Eiset Mehbratu and Ben Phi and seniors Townesend Nelson and Josiah Ferguson, qualify for Nationals. This will be the team’s second time at Nationals, the first time being two years ago.

In nationals, two teams with two people on each team debate against each other. The two people on a team work together to prove their point. The topics are hard to talk about, but that’s what we have debate for. Erick Taggart, who is the adviser for the debate team, described how proud he is of how engaged the team is. “Just their vocabulary, they’re hitting on topics that normally you’d hit on in college,” said Taggart.

Over the years the debate team has not just  been growing in numbers, but also growing in diversity. South is definitely one of the most diverse high schools in Minneapolis begin with, but debate teams have traditionally have not reflected that. “It’s fantastic. My debaters are pushing themselves to represent south, and that’s setting a great example for future debaters,” said Taggart.

Taggart also explained about how he himself took debate in high school. “I found it was a place where you could make friends and meet well rounded people.” Taggart described his high school self as a “non competitive” person, but he still really enjoyed debate.

Normally in a debate there’s one topic thats argued about each year, called a resolution which is designed to be rather open ended. This year’s resolution is whether or not the federal government should significantly increase its economic and diplomatic engagement the the people’s republic of China. In other words whether or not the US should do more exchange with China. The topics range from talking about military action in the south China sea, where the US has military presence, to talking about climate change and even human rights issues.

Each debater gets to bring up issues that are important or interesting to them, and then it is debated. Debate is an unnoticed but important activity, you can find debate everywhere you go, from politics to your school hallways.

Debate meets every other week and each session lasts about two hours on Friday and Saturday. Each tournament could range from anything from one hour to twenty hours. Upcoming nationals will last around a week. “We’re really hoping to clear this year!” said Phi with enthusiasm.

Although a long and difficult extracurricular activity, debate does help student get into colleges. “If you’re successful it can be super helpful, but the overall academic prep is helpful as well,” said Mebrahtu. Nationals is coming up fast, so keep your tiger claws crossed for South High’s debate team!